Chapter 73: A Historic Drama for Various Reasons (2)
TL: emptycube / ED: Isleidir
No, I don’t have any.
“I tried to persuade Chief Lee Bongjoon every time we film, but it seems it will be difficult to take time away from his schedule as it is currently an important time for Cat Guardian Ghost.”
I said with an embarrassed expression.
Producer Go Joontae frowned.
It wasn’t just because I wanted to screw him over, although that did take up a significant portion. Either way, this was the decision I had came to after discussing it with Team Leader Park and Kim Hyunjo.
If Seo Jijoon appearing on Next K-Star was a big opportunity for Neptune, I would have asked Producer Go Joontae first despite his hateful personality. If I asked him whether Seo Jijoon should come on the show or not, he would have immediately taken hold of this chance.
Since business was business.
However, there wasn’t really a need to.
Neptune had gained more popularity than expected due to Lee Songha and also obtained the valuable public image as a talented girl group. Now was the time to solidify this image with a great performance.
However, if we cast Seo Jijoon to appear on the final episode concert where a bunch of spectators were gathered, Neptune might end up being pushed to the side. It could also look like they were using their company connections because they weren’t confident in their performance.
Either way, it wouldn’t help in their ‘talented girl group’ image.
Also, exceeding 8% in ratings?
Of course, it would be good if that happened, but even if it didn’t, Next K-Star was already a successful program since it kept constant at 6-7% ratings.
If they were going to appear with Seo Jijoon, it would be better to appear on a different program.
After letting out a sigh, I ended by saying,
“I’m frustrated too.”
“No, it’s not like you guys are strangers. Is this really that hard for them to do when you guys work in the same company?”
Although he tried to sloppily act friendly since it was them who weren’t going along with it, like how a leopard couldn’t change its spots, his eyes gradually began to show his irritation.
I said once more,
“I’m not at the level where I can make Mr. Seo Jijoon act. I’ll try to persuade them until the last episode, but looking at how things are going, I think it’ll be difficult.”
“Ah, I can’t have this fall through. Rumors that I got Seo Jijoon already reached the director.”
That was your problem.
I did hear about it. There were rumors about it spreading amongst the staff. That, while everyone was making a fuss trying to cast Seo Jijoon, Producer Go Joontae might be able to. Something about how, because of this, Producer Go Joontae went around with his chin up, receiving the envy of other producers. It seemed this rumor had even reached the director.
Producer Go Joontae pulled his hair. It looked like he was about to shake my neck and shout, ‘Bring him! Bring him without fail!’
It was exhilarating.
That was why I told you not to get your hopes up too high.
I tried my best to hide my inner thoughts. The show hadn’t ended yet so nothing good would come out of us holding grudges against each other.
Although I didn’t know whether Lee Songha would be used as kindling for ratings if Seo Jijoon wasn’t cast, since there were calls hoping to cast both Seo Jijoon and Lee Songha from Knet’s entertainment department, he probably couldn’t straight up mess with her like he did when she was unknown.
The Devil’s editing process, maybe it was because we were now experienced with it, but it was endurable. Also, the mood and opinions had been slowly changing as well. At some point, the number of people cursing Producer Go Joontae equaled the number of people cursing Lee Songha.
Producer Go Joontae licked his dry lips and asked,
“If Mr. Sunwoo’s words don’t work, could Ms. Lee Songha ask him?”
“If Ms. Songha asks, I think Mr. Seo Jijoon will consider it more seriously. Why it looked like Ms. Songha obediently followed your words so could you ask her to?”
Did he think she was some pet?
I stared at him, dumbfounded, when Producer Go Joontae nimbly placed his arm on my shoulder.
“It’s a bit weird if I were to ask her personally. It looks like Ms. Songha is uncomfortable around me. Whatever the method, what’s important is that both parties win, but women are a bit more emotional than business-like.”
Like hell ‘both parties win’.
Whether Lee Songha was bashed or not, all you cared about were the ratings.
When I took in a deep breath as it was getting hard for me to maintain a straight face, a familiar voice cut in.
Lee Songha came around a corner and approached us. Perhaps it was because of her stage outfit but her every step exploded with energy. Just looking at her spirit, one might think she was a girl protecting Earth rather than going up on stage.
“Ah, Ms. Songha.”
“Since oppa asked Chief Lee about casting Seo Jijoon, I asked him about it, but he said he couldn’t because he was too busy.”
How surprising. Her voice was calm as if she was following a drama script.
Producer Go Joontae asked with an urgent voice,
“Mr. Seo Jijoon said that? That he couldn’t straightforwardly?”
“Yes. He’s the busiest since he’s the lead. I got scolded at because I brought it up.”
“Do-do you really not want to ask him again?”
Lee Songha let out a sigh. Oh my god.
When I saw her between Seo Jijoon and Son Chaeyoung, I had worried whether she would be able to survive in such a jungle, but Chief Lee Bongjoon was right. I was worried for nothing.
It was a weird feeling. Should I say it felt like seeing a tadpole, which I thought had only just been born, already have its hind legs?
I was proud of her.
I exchanged a glance with Lee Songha before looking at Producer Go Joontae.
“I did whatever I could to try to make this happen, but it’s sad that it fell through.”
It seemed my words were like a death sentence as Producer Go Joontae’s complexion became dark. Though I wanted to throw buckets of shit on his face, I was still greatly satisfied with throwing him what seemed to be a piece of poop at him at least.
Producer Go Joontae’s mouth opened and closed a few times before his expression sank. He was probably daunted by what he should tell the director.
I said my farewell to Producer Go Joontae, whose head was lowered, and left with Lee Songha. Only after we went around the corner did I grin. Lee Songha glanced at me from the side while holding onto my sleeve as if out of habit and asked,
“Are you happy?”
“Of course, I am. I’m completely refreshed. How about you?”
“I’m happy too.”
The sleeve her white, slender hand was holding onto shook in a ticklish manner.
Then a small smile appeared on her coral-colored lips.
Adrenaline swept my body as festive music began to play in my mind.
That was because Mermaid out of Water’s ratings fell even more. It was now close to Cat Guardian Ghost’s ratings. I heard their film sets were a complete mess. Since the Mermaid out of Water’s original fans were causing a fuss on top of that, once Cat Guardian Ghost aired this week, it seemed the situation between Mermaid out of Water and Cat Guardian Ghost would reverse.
Curious about what kind of face Son Chaeyoung made these days, I looked around every time I came to work, but I didn’t encounter her once. I only heard that she was causing trouble for Team Leader Park.
Either way, it was almost time for what I talked with the CEO about to come true.
The thought kept crossing my mind a few times every day recently.
Would CEO Baek Hansung really do what I hoped?
If that was the case, what kind of price would Son Chaeyoung pay?
Then, on Friday night, Lee Songha and I went to the theatres.
The theatres, the place where I would find peace.
The moment I sniffed the sweet smell of freshly popped popcorn, I realized how little leisure time I had the past few months. Oh my god. There weren’t any movies on display that I had watched. On top of that, there were even movies I hadn’t even heard of.
Before I started working, I came here multiple times a week. Although my heart wanted to watch around four movies consecutively, sadly I didn’t come to watch movies today.
We came to fulfill our ratings pledge.
It was an event the PR team spent a lot of time on, where we would rent out a theatre and watch the broadcast with the fans.
I pushed the massive door open and entered the theatres. I almost gasped when I saw that all 200 seats were filled. Although the fans had first priority, apparently, when they posted it on social media, hundreds of people wanted to attend.
Of course, Seo Jijoon must have had a large influence on that. Even at a glance, the seats were overwhelmingly taken up by women.
Passing by the chatting fans, I went to the seats in the middle.
While it was an exaggeration to say that there was designated press seating, as Cat Guardian Ghost became a hot topic day after day, a few reporters had shown up. They all had a laptop on their laps and were tapping away on their keyboards or checking their cameras.
Amidst them, I saw a familiar face.
“Hello, Reporter Park.”
She had large glasses and seemed determined on keeping herself warm by wearing a field jacket, a turtleneck, and a scarf. Even though it had been a long time since we had seen each other, Reporter Park Woojeong waved her hand friendlily as she came up to me.
“Wow, I almost didn’t recognize you. In a few months, your atmosphere is just… People who don’t know you will think you’re a veteran manager instead of a new recruit.”
“All sorts of things happened during this time. You look much more composed as well now.”
“It was really eventful for me too. We really need to have a drink together.”
“That’s what I’m saying. Oh, right. Please write a good article today as well.”
“Hey, no need to say that. I always write Neptune and Ms. Songha’s articles as though I’m writing a work of art. Ah, but.”
Reporter Park Woojeong cautiously asked,
“Did Ms. Lee Songha and Mr. Seo Jijoon arrive?”
“Yes. They are prepping in a temporary waiting room.”
“Could I take a picture of them getting ready?”
It seemed she was embarrassed to ask this as her cheeks reddened. She then glanced at the man looking at us behind her. Seeing as a camera hung around his neck, it seemed he was a photographer. Like how she asked me for an interview last time because her general manager ordered her to, did that person tell her to ask me?
Like I thought, she continued in a quiet voice,
“A rumor that I’m close with you has spread around me so my senior over there told me to at least ask you. If you say that we can’t, then I’ll back off right away.”
“Hmmm, one second.”
When I called Kim Hyunjo, who was in the waiting room, about it, he unexpectedly said it was okay right away. I guided a dazed yet happy Reporter Park Woojeong and the photographer to the waiting room.
As soon as we entered, Lee Songha came over, already changed into her outfit.
“Oppa, where were you? I was about to go looking for you.”
“Why? You thought I might get lost in the theatres?”
“I was just curious where you were.”
“I met her outside. You remember her, right? Reporter Park Woojeong?”
Lee Songha greeted her lightly. Reporter Park Woojeong greeted her back rigidly as though she was a block of wood. Her reaction was still decent. Behind her, the photographer’s mouth was opened so widely that I could see his tongue, which I didn’t want to see, at a glance.
I was already used to reactions like his. It was like experiencing a visual shock.
Although it had only been a few months since I had gone around with Lee Songha, there were times when even I was shocked, especially days like today, where a lot of work went into her hair and makeup. Whether they were a man or a woman, as long as they had eyes, they couldn’t help but admire her looks.
On top of that, she was wearing a short dress.
Perhaps she saw that I was looking at her dress, but Lee Songha awkwardly held her dress and asked,
“They say it was sponsored. How is it?”
“It suits you. Well, you’ll look pretty even wearing a potato sack.”
Just what could she look bad wearing?
After coming to his senses, the photographer took out his camera. Then he took a few pictures of makeup artists sticking next to Lee Songha and Seo Jijoon and fixing their makeup.
While watching this, I suddenly recalled another matter.
“Right, Ms. Park Woojeong. About what we talked about last time, my interview.”
“Although I’m a bit late, it seems the PR team said it will be okay.”
Reporter Park Woojeong’s eyes widened.
“But will my interview be article-worthy?”
“I’ll do my best to make it so. Ah, after the interview, I’ll buy beers as well. How’s Monday or Tuesday for you?”
“We have film shoots.”
Lee Songha answered instead of me.
Even though she was putting on makeup, her gaze was focused on us.
“Uh, I saw the schedule, and we have film shoots on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.”
“There probably won’t be any on Wednesday. They say it’s going to snow that day so it’s been pushed back.”
At my words, Lee Songha tapped her phone and quickly said,
“It’ll only snow in some regions. It might not at our film shoot location.”
Damn it. Then the schedule might change again.
These drama shoots were hard work, but having to stay tense while waiting for our turn every day was the hardest part since our schedule would change constantly depending on the weather or situations on set.
I told Reporter Park Woojeong that I would try to make time when I heard a strange laugh. It was Chief Lee Bongjoon. While Kim Hyunjo looked at me as if I was some crazy person, Chief Lee Bongjoon giggled as his gaze alternated between Lee Songha and me.
It was the same look as before.
A somewhat wicked yet exploding with empathy look.
An hour before the broadcast.
With the guidance of the bodyguards, we entered the theatre. I was freaked out when I heard 200 people screaming at once from their seats. There were also camera flashes from photographers on top of that. I was heating up.
We first held a simple event for the fans who had been waiting for us.
The host gave them a quiz, and Seo Jijoon and Lee Songha gave their autographs and took pictures with those who got questions right. I was worried that they might gather around Seo Jijoon too much, but fortunately, there seemed to be a lot of fans of the drama present as there were quite a few who wanted Lee Songha’s autograph and photo.
Seo Jijoon skillfully talked with his fans and hugged them, giving them lots of fan service. Lee Songha glanced at him and followed his actions quite well.
I was a few steps away, giving out autograph paper and pens, and even took pictures with my phone in case they were useful later. I took another picture since Lee Songha was looking towards me, and it seemed she knew I was taking a picture as she was smiling subtly in the picture.
Just then, a scrawny man walked out from the center. It seemed to be his turn.
His baseball cap was pressed firmly down on his head, but his expression revealed below it was strange.
The man’s mumbling voice pierced my ears.
“Wow, damn. So hot.”
Frowning, I kept my eye on him. It seemed the man requested a hug as Lee Songha spread her arms slightly.
Then, the next moment, the man hugged Lee Songha.
I came close since something felt strange. Although she did give hugs to fans earlier, they were all mannerly and only slightly touched her before backing away quickly. They didn’t give her a bear hug as though they were meeting their long-lost family.
Since the host’s attention was on Seo Jijoon, I personally tapped the man’s shoulder.
“Now, now. That’s enough…”
Lee Songha, who had been standing awkwardly and blinking her eyes, revealed a relieved expression when she saw me. I tapped the man’s shoulder with more force. But he didn’t think to stop and instead grinned as his hand slid down her back.
I frowned furiously.
This bastard, to do this to her, did he want to be arrested?
“I told you that’s enough.”